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The sound of history being made: the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. come alive in audiobooks that preserve his speeches and sermons.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a minister, civil rights leader, human rights activist and a Nobel laureate. There is a Federal holiday to mark his birth. Schools, streets and statues have been named in his honor and children throughout the world have committed to memory all or part of his 1963 speech at the Lincoln Monument during the March on Washington.

Despite all this, a significant part of Dr. King's legacy is in jeopardy. For at least two generations, the depth and breadth of Dr. King's life and works have been distilled into narrow lessons on the Montgomery bus boycott, the "I Have a Dream" speech and his assassination.

Many of his other accomplishments and his words have been all but forgotten, but a number of new audiobooks go a long way toward correcting the balance, giving a fuller picture of his life in a readily digestible form.

Although these collections are available in book form, the speeches and sermons were meant to be heard. Listeners are immediately captured by Dr. King's eloquence and lyrical delivery, with all the cadences and riffs. They are able to examine his recurring themes and elements of what we now call "motivational speaking."

In His Own Words:

A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Edited by Clayborne Carson and Kris Shepard, Time Warner AudioBooks, January 2001, $34.98, ISBN 1-570-42573-6

A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration From the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. edited by Clayborne Carson and Peter Holloran, Time Warner AudioBooks, May 1998, Unabridged cassette: $26.98, ISBN 1-570-42572-8

Growing Up King: An Intimate Memoir by Dexter Scott King and Ralph Wiley Read by Dexter Scott King, Time Warner Audiobooks, January 2003, Abridged cassette: $25.98, ISBN 1-586-21200-1

Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rappaport Illustrated by Bryan Collier, Read by Michael Clarke Duncan, Read-along cassette and hardcover book: $29.95 ISBN 1-555-92133-7

A Picture Book of Martin Luther King by David A. Adler, illustrated by Robert Casilla, Read by Charles Turner, Live Oak Media, January 2004, Paperback book and cassette: $18.95, ISBN 1-591-12773-4


Voice of Black America: Historical Recordings of Speeches, Poetry, Humor & Drama, Naxos Audiobooks Ltd., February 2002

Cassette: $13.98, ISBN 9-626-34748-1

CD: $15.98, ISBN 9-626-34248-X

Booker T. Washington's Atlanta Exposition speech was as famous in his time as Dr, King's 1963 speech at the Lincoln Monument was in his, Voice of Black America allows listeners to hear Washington's own voice. The Naxos Audiobooks compilation also includes the voices of James Weldon Johnson, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, along with vaudevillians Bert Wheeler and Charley Case.

Gwendolyn E. Osborne is a BIBR contributing editor.
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Author:Osborne, Gwendolyn E.
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2005
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